Good News from Atchison, Kansas – Ed O’Rourke

Dad went to Benedictine College and I was a student there in the early 1960s before I joined the Basilian Fathers for three years.  I started to make extended visits to Atchsion in 1983.

I lived about 200 meters from Division Street which will be Unity Street on October 1, 2020.

We had few black people in Atchison in the early 1960s and only a few now.  However, the locals have stepped up to plate. Stephen Hawking talked about moving to another planet.  Since that trip will not happen anytime soon, all humans will swim or sink together.  There are no lifeboats.  Reverse global warming, scrap the nuclear weapons and end poverty everywhere.

I invite you to see this article from the Atchison Globe.

Division Street to be renamed Unity Street
Division Street to be renamed Unity StreetJames Howey Atchison GlobeThe name of a part of the Atchison community that has for many years been seen as a symbol of racism and segrega…

Division Street to be renamed Unity Street

The name of a part of the Atchison community that has for many years been seen as a symbol of racism and segregation will officially be changed. 

The Atchison City Commission approved the ordinance by a 5-0 vote Monday evening to be renamed as Unity Street with the official date of change as of October 1.

“We are very happy that the city commission stood with us to remove Division and voted for Unity in our community,” Sean Crittendon founder of Atchison United and USD 409 Board Member said. “Our Commission is paving the way to a brighter future for all of the citizens of Atchison.” 

Crittendon said the street was obviously named to separate the city and the county but that hasn’t been the lasting legacy of the area. 

“In due time Division Street evolved into much more of a problematic divide in the Atchison Community,” Crittendon said. “Even though that was not intended it became reality for me.”  

Atchison United brought forth an expansive presentation before the commission with several testimonials from people around the community that had either seen, heard or experienced acts of racism that originated from the street’s reputation. 

“Atchison United is proud of the city commissioners for taking such a positive step towards making Atchison a more unified city for people of all backgrounds,” the organization said in a statement. “Tonight is a testament to the effect that positive change and unity can have on a community and Atchison United looks forward to continuing our mission of making Atchison a city that celebrates our diversity, unity, and tolerance.”

Vice Mayor Abby Bartlett also helped spearhead the movement with some thoughtful and passionate words about building a better community.

“We as commissioners have promised our community moving forward that the vision of Atchison to be welcoming, hospitable  and create a place for all,” Bartlett said. “We’re not doing that right now.” 

Bartlett said the change simply needed to happen for the future of Atchison. 

“We have to become an inclusive family friendly area to live in and our children to grow up in,” Bartlett said. “That is why I ran for city commission; For my children and my children’s children.”

Newly appointed commissioner Jesse Greenly said the renaming of the street is a step in the right direction but also that more work needs to be done. 

“If in fact we’re not willing to change minds and hearts; I don’t care what we name it,” Greenly said. “It’s going to be the same, but I believe it’s a step in the right direction.” 

Next year in Jerusalem,

Ed

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